As students start applying for rooms for next year, they might be looking into some other housing options. Gender Neutral Housing at Juniata has only been an option for one year, but Lauren O’Donnell, director of residential life, breaks down the basics:
Why did Juniata decide to implement Gender Neutral Housing?
We implemented it for this school year, so we began the process around this time last year. We researched how other schools do it and we developed an application. We have one Gender Neutral Housing room currently. It was implemented before I became a director, but the growing trend at schools outside of Juniata was to offer an option like this. I think it was suggested by students to have Gender Neutral Housing as an option.
How does Gender Neutral Housing differ from regular housing?
Basically, it’s the kind of room that the majority of our students have, but the Gender Neutral Housing option allows you to room with someone of the opposite gender. That could be in South in a double room with one male and one female, or it could be in East with a combination of males and females. Those are primarily the areas we have set aside for that.
What qualifies a student for Gender Neutral Housing?
Essentially, students apply for Gender Neutral Housing and say their reasons for applying. We aren’t looking for a particular reason, but the Dean and I review those applications and then determine if they’re suitable or not. Typically if the two are in a heterosexual relationship, we are not going to allow them to room together.
Will Gender Neutral Housing be a continuing part of Juniata’s housing system?
I think since this was the first year that it has been implemented, as with anything else as the community evolves the housing options will evolve too. I think it is something that we would like to see it grow, but even if no one applied, it is something that we would continue to pursue each year, and we would see how we can market it the following year to see if we can get more involvement or interest.
How will Gender Neutral Housing change for next year?
There are no real changes in policies. I think part of that is because this year we only had the one room. I think that the program worked really well, and there is not a need to change it at this time. It’s something that we will continue to evaluate each year.
~Laura Bitely ’14, Juniata Online Journalist